St.George Queensland Reds head coach Richard Graham has named his side to take on the Melbourne Rebels in a pre-season match at Ballymore Stadium this Friday.
Graham has made four changes to the starting side that defeated the Chiefs 31-20 in Toowoomba last Saturday.
In the forwards, James Slipper has been moved from tighthead prop to loosehead and Greg Holmes moves from the reserves to starting tighthead.
In the backs, Chris Feauai-Sautia replaces Ben Tapuai in the starting lineup, while Rod Davies has been brought in to replace Aidan Toua, who is suffering from hamstring soreness following last weekend’s match. Davies will play on the wing, with Lachie Turner shifting to fullback.
James Hanson, Anthony Fainga’a and Jamie-Jerry Taulagi have been added to the reserves for their first match of 2014. This will be Taulagi’s first match for the Reds.
Reds coach Richard Graham said it was important to see as many players as possible on the field before the opening round of Super Rugby on 22 February.
“We tested a lot of combinations on the weekend and got our first look at the squad in a high-quality match environment,” Graham said.
“With only a week until the start of Super Rugby, our match against the Rebels provides another opportunity to give the playing group valuable game time.”
Graham also said the entire group was looking forward to playing at Ballymore.
“The Reds understand the winning history and proud traditions surrounding Ballymore. We train here every day, but the team hasn’t played here since 2010. We are hoping for a strong home crowd to cheer us on,” he said.
With only 26 players in the team to face the Rebels, several Reds squad members will play for Reds A in a curtain-raiser clash against the Australian Barbarians.
The side will be captained by Reds flanker Beau Robinson and also feature fully contracted players Albert Anae, Dave McDuling, Blake Enever and Chris Kuridrani in the starting lineup. The team will be rounded out by members of the Reds’ Wider Training Squad and Reds Under 20s.
“The squad has been training for a little over 4 months now. It is important to get them as much game time as possible heading into the season,” Graham said.
“This match against the Australian Barbarians will benefit our Wider Training Squad and Under 20s members and some of our players like Beau who are coming back from injury.
“We want all of the squad to be in the best possible position when it comes to selection for that first Super Rugby match against the Brumbies.”
The Reds match against the Rebels at Ballymore Stadium kicks off at 7:40pm this Friday, 14 February.